Friday, February 24, 2012

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

Ella Marino knows three things to be true. One: Edward Willing, a skillful painter, is meant to be her everlasting soul mate. Two: Edward Willing has been dead for almost a century—and not in the sexy vampire way. Nope, he’s dead dead. Three: Ella Marino has more chance of getting a date with the late Edward Willing than she has of being noticed by the living, popular, and possibly nice, Alex Bainbridge.

Unless Ella happens to be taking French . . . and failing it, which she is. Apparently, being an Italian-American does not give Ella mad French skills as her French teacher wishes to believe. And unless Alex just happens to tutor French, which he does (must be all those summers abroad). Then maybe they have a chance.

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare has so much worthwhile humor. Ella’s thought process, family stories, and seemingly useless knowledge make the book. After reading The Fine Art of Truth or Dare, I am convinced that everyone deserves a crazy Uncle Ricky to continually audition for Top Chef. Uncle Ricky doesn’t play a big role, but his mentions in The Fine Art of Truth or Dare make the reader feel at home in the incredible Marino family. Ohh that Ricky . . . life just wouldn’t be the same without him.

But the humor is also one of the reasons why I give this book four stars instead of five. As the official opposite of a pop culture junkie, The Sopranos, “Freddie Krueger,” and other pop culture references make no sense to me. (But, seriously, who is this . . . “Freddie Krueger?”) Pop culture junkies, rejoice: your vast understanding of vague television and movie references will finally be put to good use. The references aren’t enough to make the book unreadable to non-pop culture fans, but by the sixth random television reference I was starting to feel a little annoyed.

Ella Marino is not a normal character, but she’s odd in a good way. How many YA main characters are there with a love for fine art and an aptitude for truth or dare? NONE. I love reading about a main character who is still pretty normal, but has his or her own unique hobbies and loves. I was happily surprised by Ella’s amazing family—no overused absentee parents here. All members are present and loving. Also over-the-top funny. Ella’s superstitious grandma’s speeches are probably my favorite parts in the book. I love her family’s differentness from other families I read about.

I grant The Fine Art of Truth or Dare four figstars.

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